Tuesday 25 September 2018

'Celine law' could see killers lose asset share

Eamonn Lillis
Eamonn Lillis
Celine Cawley

The brother of Celine Cawley has called on more to be done to prevent people found guilty of killing their spouses from keeping the victim's assets.

Chris Cawley was speaking in response to a report commissioned today which could see perpetrators who commit murder, attempted murder or manslaughter have their co-owned assets reduced significantly depending on the circumstances of the killing.

However, killers could also still hold on to half of the family home and other joint assets shared with the spouse or partner, such as shares, pensions and state benefits.

The new laws have been recommended by the Law Commission, with the report compiled after a five-year legal battle between the family of business woman Ms Cawley and her husband Eamon Lillis over the mother-of-one's estate.

Although Mr Cawley welcomed the new report, he added that laws do not go far enough.

"In other countries, if you kill someone, you lose all interest in the joint assets and for obvious reasons," he said.


He added that the "horror" of what he described as "toxic co-dependence" between a killer and the victim's relatives in the aftermath of a killing was something that should not be visited on families.

Mr Cawley said he hopes it becomes the normal practice that 100pc of the joint assets go to the victim's estate unless there are exceptional circumstances.

8 Celine CawleyPic.jpg
Celine Cawley

Ms Cawley was killed at her family home in Howth in December 2008 after suffering blows to the head from a brick.

Lillis (57) was convicted of her manslaughter.

But the law states that where a killer has held a joint tenancy with the deceased, the full interest automatically passes to the surviving joint owner.

Lillis was released from prison earlier this year with more than €1m in assets, despite being found guilty of his wife's manslaughter.

He retained his half of their joint property while the remainder was held in constructive trust for the couple's daughter, Georgia.

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